Choose a topic that you want to discuss in the conference and explain why.
The rise of internet media, especially for social networking service; such as twitter, facebook, Instagram has greatly influenced on our daily lives. According to a survey conducted by The Hakuhodo DY Media Partners Institute of Media Environment in 2018, there are the following three major findings about how people change their times and lifestyles to communicate through media:
- Total media contact time at a record high 396.0 minutes, thanks to increased digital media contact time. 2. Digital media’s share of all media contact exceeds 50% for the first time, at 50.4%. 3. Feature phones/smartphones tops media reputation in “essential for conversations with friends,” “it's a habit,” and “useful.” (Of the 42 media reputation items, feature phones/smartphones ranked No. 1 in 17, the most of any of the media）
As you can see from the above data, interactions via smartphones are the essential parts of modern life. Unfortunately, this addiction to the internet and mobile communities cause negative impact on our real lives as well. In my position paper, I would like to discuss the power of social media that accelerates online bullying at school. There are many internet bullying are happening at top national universities in Japan. For instance, in 2009, Law School students at Kobe University wrote their peer student’s name and slanders on an anonymous online bulletin board with detailed descriptions of that student’s behavior in the classes (Sankei 2009).
Another example is, sadly, my case. I have been suffering from online bullying before I had enrolled at Kyoto University Graduate School. After I received an acceptance letter from the dean of my graduate school, I started to announce my enrollment to my social network pages and online bulletin boards of my department to get along with prospective students. As a result, I have been written slander on anonymous online bulletin boards and attacked my account on twitter. It is regrettable that those kinds of ridiculous bullying have been happening in one of the best universities in the nation. (According to The Times Higher Education’s Japan University Rankings 2019, Kyoto University is ranked #1 and Kobe University is in #16.) To make the matter worse, although I asked my faculties to solve this problem, their conclusion was that I should ignore all those nasty comments on the internet and they did not file a lawsuit against those who keep writing slander. From this bitter experience, what I felt is that online bullying is not only an issue of certain closed school communities, but also it is a social problem that everyone might be a victim in the future. Therefore, I would like to analyze why this kind of vicious cycles is still happening at schools in the next few paragraphs.
I assume that there are four major reasons for bullying in general. First, online bulletin boards and social networks seem to be able to post anything anonymously that you cannot say in your real lives. The development of online media and social networks bring both positive and negative effects. According to Japan Times, Insuta-bae インスタ映え (scenes or products that look picture-perfect for Instagram) has become a buzzword of Japan in 2017. As their staff writer, Ms. Tomoko Otake pointed out,
Instagram has taken off in Japan and now many smartphone users can take everyday snapshots and upload them on the photo-sharing platform. It has become such a popular software that many companies are coming up with photogenic products and starting hashtag campaigns.
Young generations are infatuated to show off their “instagrammable” lives on Instagram, and try to be looked that you are superior to others, which means that you have better husband, children, home, cars, food, or whatever things and qualities in your life. As Maslow’s hierarchy of needs illustrates, self-actualization and esteem are the top priorities of motivation (McLeod, 2018); it is natural desires of human beings and totally fine if those outputs were worked properly on social networks. In reality, however, we are exposed to see other people’s personal lives that you have never had a chance to look at before the internet and online media have gained popularity. These unnecessary competitions and comparisons on the social media and online bulletin boards make it possible to stir the malicious emotions and another vicious personality.
Second, I am very active in every single class, which may be annoying for students who are quiet during in-class debates. Students, who continue to write critical comments about my attitude and opinions in the class, do not have courage to speak up in front of hundred audiences to fight me back; therefore, they just express their negative feelings on the internet to release their frustrations. I do not say that my proactive personality is better than the other modest students; however, in a graduate school where you are encouraged to be leaders of big companies or government organizations, class participation is extremely important. Approximately thirty to sixty percent of your total grades are evaluated by your class attendance and comments, which illustrates the significance of your active participation. As a typical Japanese national, who was born and raised in Japan, however, I understand that it is very difficult for Japanese students to give speeches, have presentations, and exchange opinions in front of others. Therefore, if I was able to do so, those who cannot imitate my attitude would be jealous.
Third, since my department stipulates that if there are more than thirty students in a class, only the top 70% of them can obtain credits. This brings tremendous pressures to those who have been silent in the class activities because they have always been threatened to fail their courses. This pressure of being kicked out from school pushes them to attack classmates who are superior to them. Personally, I think relative evaluations should be abolished in my graduate school. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to avoid competitions in your life. Therefore, we need to have your own self-management skills to have self-esteem as well as keep yourself calm in competitive, stressful, challenging, and difficult situations.
Finally, Japanese students, in general, are not familiar with people who have different backgrounds. Therefore, if a stranger stepped into their community, they feel uncomfortable and sometimes start bullying. However, as a number of tourists and labor force who enter Japan has been rising tremendously, it is time to change our language skills and mindsets so that we can understand each other and cooperate with strangers even in your local town. According to government data, the number of non-Japanese residents in June 2018 was over 2.6 million, the highest ever. This figure is more than 2.5 times greater than 30 years ago, at the start of the Heisei Era (Aizawa 2019). Moreover, since Japan will host many international events, G20 Summit and Rugby World Cup this year, Tokyo Olympics in 2020, and Expo in 2015; Japan can no longer be a homogenous country. Therefore, we need to learn how to live in a multi-cultural society. Since most of the delegates have lived and/or studied in different countries, I guess that many of you have similar cross-cultural experiences. Therefore, I would like to hear your stories and how did you able to change the situation.
To summarize my arguments, I would like to tell my bitter experiences of being bullied on the internet websites and social network services to all other representatives so that we could discuss why these offensive actions have been still ongoing and how to prevent those misconducts. In our conference, I hope every delegate could also share their similar stories that you have overcome in your lives, think solutions together to eradicate bullying at school and on the internet, plus propose our ideas to the society so that we could save students who are still isolated and suffering from bullying.
Aizawa, Yuko(2019). Opening the door to incoming workers, Tokyo: NHK
The Hakuhodo DY Media Partners Institute of Media Environment, (2018). Time Series Analysis Findings from the Annual Media Consumption Report 2018, Tokyo: Hakuhodo, Inc.
McLeod, Saul(2018). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Simply Phychology.
Otake, Tomoko (2017). Japan's buzzwords of 2017 cover everything from politics to poop, The Japan Times.
Sankei Shinbun(2009). 神戸大法科大学院でネットいじめ、掲示板に実名「自殺に追い込め」 弁護士の使命は人権擁護・正義実現 (original in Japanese) the article was quoted from a personal blog of Ayutaki Wataru
The Times Higher Education (2019). Japan University Rankings 2019
Asahi Shinbun(2019). 追手門学院、外部講師が発言 「腐ったミカン」「よどんでいる」「負のオーラ」「要らない」(original in Japanese)
The Japan Times (2015). Comedian recounts the heavy toll of online slander
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